Water Bottle Wars

My back garden is like a war zone at the moment. The horrible drought that has taken a grip on Cape Town has forced more and more wild birds to leave their mountainside habitat and look for water in domestic gardens. Lately I’ve had species of sunbird I don’t normally get to see in my garden coming to feed and the squabbles and antics are fascinating to witness.

Dry and hot weather results in quite a few scraps among the different species.  Most of the time it’s like watching kids in a playground as they fight for a spot at the spout.

Although sometimes different species do  get along and it’s quite a civil affair.

There are more take offs and landings in my garden than at Heathrow at the moment 🙂

And then there are the domestic disputes. Or maybe it was a mating ritual. Either way I photographed their interaction for 10 minutes. In heat of 32 degrees C !!

As for the ubiquitous and gutsy Cape White Eyes, there’s often a tag team to take on the competition – although squabbles amongst themselves are equally common 🙂

Then there are the playground bullies who scare everyone else away.  Male weaver birds are notorious thugs.

And the shy guys.  Cape Bulbuls are regular visitors but are always on high alert while the other species are uber bold by comparison.


Southern Yellow Billed Hornbill

Like Zazu in The Lion King, this garrulous bird gives itself away by the racket it makes.  The juveniles are easier to creep up on than the adults – as my will photos attest to 🙂




African wildlife’s ubiquitous beauty therapist – the yellow-billed oxpecker. Thanks to this attentive and garrulous little bird, larger animals like hippos and buffalo are kept parasite free.

32-IMG_3342 (2)



Harassed, hardworking husbands

Male Weavers have got to be the most industrious, hardworking birds I know.  Common throughout sub-Saharan Africa with their bright yellow plumage and elaborately woven nests, they are harassed and henpecked until they get that nursery basket just right.  If not the female will rip it to shreds and demand a new one immediately.

This poor harassed Cape Weaver male is part of a colony nesting outside a gallery in Kleinmond.




Karoo Prinia

One tiny bird, a whole lot of noise.




Oystercatchers in flight


African Black Oystercatchers in flight – Cape Point



Malachite Sunbirds

A visit to my friend Ollie Smith’s home in Kommetjie always carries the promise of amazing bird life up close and personal.  This time it was Malachite Sunbirds, which was my first encounter ever with this larger cousin of the Double Collared Sunbirds that frequent our garden often.

At one point there were as many as five bright green and yellow males around the bird-feeder and it was interesting to watch the battle of wills between the sunbirds and the bees for the sugar water.

IMG_7454 IMG_7472 IMG_7506 IMG_7513


We’re Family Right?

In a tiny village near Tofo, I came across the strangest sight – a Helmeted Guineafowl who thinks he’s a chicken.  It all came about when Victor Giamba stumbled across a clutch of guinea fowl eggs and put them under his hens.  He assured me the rest of the hatchlings were given away to friends and not kept for the pot 🙂


Everywhere the rooster goes, the Guineafowl follows in a flash of colour and dots!



Creatures Great and Small

There is so much more to Butterfly Word than just … well butterflies:  From the diminutive dwarf chameleons to the large green tree iguana and a dainty and very shy blue duiker, there are loads of other creatures to see.


   173 171 167 161 154 144 128 099 096 075



Walvis Bay on the Namibian coast is considered to be one of the best spots in the world to view flamingos.  I captured these on a gloomy, overcast morning after wading through several metres of slippery, smelly mud.Flamingos, Walvis BayWindblown flamingosFlamingos, Walvis Bay